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Kayla SchneiderHistory Research Paper4/11/14Opium has always been a major part of Afghanistan’s culture. This country has been the leading producer in opium for decades and it has greatly affected Afghanistan both economically and politically over the years. The country’s drug profits are now a key source of income for their reconstruction. Even the highest level of government is involved in the opium trade. Therefore Afghan opium has become the biggest threat to American war on drugs as well as their efforts to bring democracy to the country. The American government has invested a lot of time and money into bringing this war to an end. However, their billion dollar efforts to end the drug trade have not been effective. Their efforts fail because opium production is a very profitable business, it is one of the only ways people can support themselves, and opium is heavily integrated into their society. The only other means to gain a profit was provided by the U.S. government and with the departure of United State’s troops in 2014, those contracts are ending. Opium has had a long history in Europe and Asia. The spread of this drug grew exponentially after the Opium Wars. The First Opium War opened up more trade ports in China, which allowed Britain to gain access to their markets. In the Second Opium War the British defeated the Chinese again and the British concretely established the right to have a diplomatic presence in the capital. The British forced the Chinese to remove manyof the trade restrictions and more importantly, they legalized the trade of opium. These Opium Wars allowed for the continuation of the spread of opium throughout Asia and Europe.
Opium trade eventually reached Afghanistan as a result and it soon became the one of the countries most profitable crops. Afghan involvement in the international drug tradebegan in the 1970s, when large numbers of foreigners came to their country looking to buy their opium. During the war against Soviet Occupation Soviet in the 1980s, the sovietsoldiers bombed towns, and destroyed local resources, crippling their economy. “In 1985 more than half of the farmers in Afghanistan reported bombing of their village and destruction to their irrigation system. As a result Afghan peasantry were pressured into the cultivation of opium poppies in order to survive.” 1Opium soon became a major source of income for the war efforts. It funded their military in order to win the fight against the Soviets. Opium allowed them to purchase weapons. Even after the war opium remained a major cash crop for their economy. “By 1998, Afghanistan farmers produced 300 tons of opium annually.” 2The production of opium only increased from there, “in 2006, their opium production peaked at 8,000 metric tons, the highest level ever recorded.” 3Today opium is the